MLB Hot Stove Rumors: Rays have made an 'initial offer' to Jason Castro

Catcher has been a problem position for the Tampa Bay Rays for a very long time, basically since Dioner Navarro was let go. However, it now appears the team is willing to spend for an upgrade.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Rays have made an "initial offer" to free agent backstop Jason Castro.

Fred Wray, Castro's agent, confirmed Tampa Bay's interest. Here's more from Topkin:

"Rays have made an initial offer and are right in the thick of things and being considered by Jason,'' Wray said via text.

Wray said there is no timetable yet for a decision, that they are "are working through multiple offers and weighing options/opportunity.''

The Rays are not big spenders in free agency, historically. They don't have the payroll to spend lavishly. Tampa last gave a free agent a multiyear contract during the 2013-14 offseason, when they signed both Grant Balfour and James Loney. Neither deal worked out and both players were later released.

Castro, 29, hit 18 home runs and was an All-Star in 2013, though he's never come close to repeating that level of production. He's hit .215/.291/.369 (84 OPS+) over the last three seasons, including .210/.307/.377 (88 OPS+) in 2016. Rays catchers hit .202/.265/.349 (74 OPS+) this year.

Both StatCorner and Baseball Prospectus rated Castro as one of baseball's elite pitch-framers this past season, and that's no doubt why the Rays want to sign him. Tampa Bay has been emphasizing pitch-framing for years and Castro is one of the best. He fits what they look for in a catcher.

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Jason Castro has received an offer from the Rays. USATSI

Along with Matt Wieters and the rehabbing Wilson Ramos, Castro is one of the best available free agent catchers this offseason. Castro is said to have received interest from other teams in addition to the Rays, including the White Sox and Twins.

While landing a huge payday along the lines of Brian McCann (five years, $85 million) and Russell Martin (five years, $82 million) won't happen, Castro is in line for a deal along the lines of Francisco Cervelli's three-year, $31 million contract.

The Astros acquired McCann in a trade with the Yankees earlier this week, effectively ending Castro's tenure with Houston.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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